Newcastle avoid dreaded drop
London - Newcastle Falcons will stay in the top flight of English rugby union next season, regardless of whether London Welsh win promotion later this month, the Rugby Football Union said on Wednesday.
Former South Africa assistant coach Gary Gold was given a temporary role at Newcastle in January in a bid to save the north-east club from relegation. He has since been appointed as head of rugby of Bath.
London Welsh, one of the top clubs of the 1970s, are due to play the second leg of the Championship final on May 30, victory in which would ordinarily see them go up to the Premiership at the expense of the northeast club, who finished bottom.
But the RFU appointed independent auditors to assess whether London Welsh's ground was suitable for the league.
"The report, carried out by independent auditors, found that London Welsh has not met the MSC (minimum standards criteria) for the Aviva Premiership," the RFU said in a statement.
"The independent auditors identified various failures, including not having Primacy of Tenure at their nominated ground (English football League Two side Oxford United's Kassam Stadium).
"This states that a club must demonstrate that they can host home fixtures at the time stipulated by Premiership Rugby and/or the host broadcaster.
"The RFU Board ratified the findings and agreed, should London Welsh win the RFU Championship final following the second leg on May 30, they would not be eligible for promotion and Newcastle Falcons would remain in the Aviva Premiership."
London Welsh's Championship final opponents Cornish Pirates have chosen not to have an independent audit of their Mennaye Field ground, so are also ineligible for promotion.
No Championship side, therefore, will go up this season, the RFU said.
London Welsh can appeal the decision within 14 days.